40 Analyzing Simple and Complex Negations in the Practice of Taking the Mind as the Path

21 Apr 2016

Alan explains that phenomena that arise to the mind can be affirmations or negations. The negations can be further divided into simple and complex negations. In the discourse of the Arhat Nagasena with the king, the discussion leads to the conclusion that a chariot is not to be found as an inherently existent object. This is an example of a simple negation. A treeless plane is an example of a complex negation: trees are negated but a plane is confirmed. Alan emphasizes that the object of the practice “Taking the Mind as the Path” is the space of the mind and everything that arises in it. This meditation instruction has to be very clear. Alan gives instructions for the meditations which was silent. During the session he wants us to closely apply attention to the interval between thoughts. Eventually he wants us to answer the question: Is the space of the mind a sheer absence of appearances? Or is the space of the mind something that has characteristics? What do you see?

The Meditation is on “Taking the mind as the path” while analyzing the intervals between thoughts.

A quick poll after the session revealed that no one is of the opinion that the space of the mind is a simple negation, meaning that it is a sheer absence of appearances. Everybody confirmed that it is instead a complex negation, with the space of the mind having its own attributes. When Alan asked about the attributes of this empty space, the participants were responding with simple negations only. One person mentions that it is clear, meaning having no color, no shape and no sound. Others mentioned the attributes boundlessness and unobstructedness which are still negative qualities.

Alan encourages us to answer his questions quickly, directly and precisely, regardless whether it is right or wrong. The discussion then will resemble debates in Tibetan monasteries, which are fresh, light, and frisky and wake the mind up.

Another attribute mentioned is potential, but here the subject, that is the observer, has a “sense of potential”. This is a quality of the observers’ discerning intelligence as he attends to the object. However, potential is not an attribute of the object but rather a conceptual imputation of the observer.

Alan asks us to check out the attributes of the space of the mind again, without imputing anything on it. In the mentally perceived let there be only the mentally perceived. Then we should report what we have seen.

Meditation is silent (not recorded).


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